Cochabamba, Bolivia – It looks like just another busy Saturday afternoon in Cliza, a farming village 37 kilometres south of Cochabamba: local small farmers offer the colorful fruits from the pachamama, or sacred highlands soil, to hundreds of patrons.
Today was different, though. Cliza’s farmers market catered to two special ‘customers’: World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and Bolivia’s Evo Morales, who signed right there a memorandum of understanding for the sustainable production of quinoa --the Andean super food increasingly growing its global market share-- and other ancestral food products, which are the foundation for production systems in the Bolivian Altiplano.
Dozens of proud farmers exhibited their products: tropical fruits, such as custard apples, berries, bananas, vegetables, coffee, but also quinoa and dried llama meat, staples of their diets and incomes.
Food security is a priority in Bolivia and plays a key role in fighting poverty and in promoting opportunities for all. And, experts say, the most effective step to guarantee such security is by supporting thousands of small farmers and their access to markets.
“Economic development that doesn’t benefit all engenders injustice and frustration. Regardless of their race, gender, place of birth, or social origin, people should have the same opportunities to build a good future with dignity," said Kim.
Saturday’s signing ceremony underscored the importance of fostering economic opportunity in rural Bolivia as part of a growing partnership with the country’s own farmers and decision makers.
President Morales welcomed this approach.
"The President of the World Bank does not come here to give us recipes but to support our own recipes and policies, our programs developed by our ministries. The World Bank does not blackmail, or impose conditions, not anymore," Morales said.
Earlier, Kim joined Morales in a ribbon cutting for a new sports facility serving Oruro’s Uru-Chipayas. As part of the ceremony, Kim and Morales played a friendly soccer match wearing Bolivia’s national team jersey.